In previous posts we have looked at how changing the products you use to do your laundry can have a dramatic effect on; you, the environment and your purse/wallet. So to continue our theme, we are going to look at another easy place to make simple changes that have a big impact, and that is the products you use to clean your home.
And not just in the Spring but all year through. Oh yes, my friends eco cleaning is for life not just for Spring time ;)
One of the problems that we all face is effective advertising. We see the products on TV or in magazines, so we feel they must be good, perhaps we have been using them for years or our parents used them and we trust them, they are familiar. But what if ...
First we are going to talk VOCs. This is the abbreviation for Volatile Organic Compounds and whether you have heard of them before or not, they are important. They are chemicals that have a high vapour pressure at room temperature, which basically means at room temperature they will be or become a gas/ vapour. They are given off by a lot of things... almost everything in fact to some degree, but the vast majority of them that are present in your home will come from paints, furnishings and cleaning products. They are also responsible for the quality of most people’s indoor air to be up to 10x lower in quality – or more polluted - than that of the outside. As many of us spend an awful lot of our time indoors these days, this is not something to be taken lightly. They have been linked to all sorts of health issues, but to list them all here would smack of scare mongering to me and that is not what this is about, so I will just mention that one of the main ones is Asthma and if you want to know more about VOCs then please have a look into them.
Now obviously the VOCs are invisible, we can’t see them – although we can sometimes smell them and we may be able to notice their effects. - but what we can see is the host of warning labels on the back of the bottles of many of the cleaning products. If you go to the cupboard where you keep them and line them all together and just look at those warnings. Those diagrams mean things like ‘Irritation’ – to skin eyes or airways ‘environmental hazard’ ‘flammable’ ‘corrosive.’ There may be phrases such as ‘only use in well ventilated areas’ or ‘poses threat to wildlife’. Not all eco products are completely safe of course. We would always recommend keeping anything cleaning related out of the reach of children or pets, but to me it just makes sense to minimise the risks as far as I can.
What about the wider environment? Well, if you are not washing all those chemicals away down your sink, or flushing them down your toilet, then you are straight away doing the environment a great favour. Many of the chemicals can cause great problems in the waterways from straight up death of aquatic life to algal blooms. Even water that ends up being treated in the treatment plants cannot be stripped of all the chemicals we put into it.
When we clean our homes, unless we are washing everything down afterwards with a lot of water, we are also leaving behind a ‘film’ of these chemicals on the surface we have just cleaned. So are they really clean?
We have become obsessed in recent times with everything being germ free, but is germ free really what is best for us? With Allergies, Eczema, Asthma etc on the rise, maybe we need a few more germs in our lives and few less chemicals? And you can still combat the nasty germs without the chemicals.
Also you can save money. I know, it just keeps getting better, right! You do not need to have anywhere near the amount of cleaning products in your life that the commercial manufacturers would have you believe.
So how do you make the switch?
As with most of these things it makes little sense to throw all of your current cleaning material away and rush out (or online!) and get new. But if you cannot now stand to use your current supplies again, then please please do not simply throw them away or wash them down the drain. You can take them to hazardous waste disposal (contact your local recycling centre) or even donate them to be used elsewhere.
The good news is that, as ever we have a variety of options for you to replace your cleaning products with from things that won’t feel dissimilar to raw ingredients that you can make your own cleaning products with.
Bio-D offer a great range of cleaning products, including a Multi Surface Cleaner, Furniture polish, Toilet Cleaner, Bathroom Cleaner and Floor Cleaner. All of these are made with Bio-D’s care and attention for ingredients and backed by their strict environmental policy. 100% of their range is Hypoallergenic, Vegan and Cruelty Free. The products are also made in the UK and come in recyclable packing. They are concentrated and last for ages.
These products are a great place to start on your journey towards a more eco clean home.
EcoEgg have a very cost effective Antibacterial Multipurpose Cleaner. It is super concentrated and 1 x 1L bottle of concentrate will make 80 x 1L bottles of cleaning product. It lasts a long time! It is dermalogically tested and contains no harsh chemicals being made from plant extracts. It still manages to kill 99.9% of bacteria including E.coli, Flu and MRSA.
They also do a really good hard surface cleaner which is 100% natural being made of a special type of clay. It contains no phosphates, no detergents and no chemicals. It is great for stainless steel, ovens and hobs, tiles, windows, mirrors, pots and pans and so much more!
What if you want to take it a step further and really get back to basics? To know exactly what you are cleaning your home with? No problem, and it is actually pretty simple and straight forward, you only need a few key ingredients and you and your home can find a whole new world of clean.
White Vinegar. This is a good place to start, super for cleaning glass and windows , it is also a natural disinfectant And can combat limescale. (but not to be used on plated surfaces). It is also great for mould and mildew. So wonderful for bathrooms, especially if teamed up with some essential oil. White vinegar is actually great for so many things that it really should be considered for a prime spot in your cupboard. It is not the best at removing dirt though so it does need some back up.
Bicarbonate of Soda, is super at deodorising - carpets, upholstery, bins, drains, fridges. And also great for mild abrasion, it cleans well without scratching so can be used on shiny or delicate surfaces. It is super at cleaning up grease and grime so great for kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
Soda Crystals. These are amazing value and have so many uses. They are amazing for cleaning paintwork and the frames of UVPC windows. They are good at removing stains from carpets and upholstery. They dissolve grease so great for drains, cookers hobs, and backsplashes. They can clean floors, tiles, silverware, jewellery, bins, toilets and many more things! (not to be used on aluminium).
Citric Acid is great if you have build up of limescale, whether it is in your kettle or your showerhead, around
your taps or in your iron.
For scent and antibacterial cleaning qualities you can look to essential oils. Tea Tree is an excellent option (although beware if you have cats as it is not so excellent for them).
Hydrogen Peroxide is great also for disinfecting when needed, for example after contact with raw meat.
Olive Oil makes a wonderful furniture polish. Especially if you would rather avoid beeswax.
Magic Erasers are amazing at getting marks of walls, doors, coffee cups, wood, vinyl. Even deep seated stains that other cleaners may have failed at, they really are quite magical.
Microfibre Cloths. These are great cloths for cleaning all surfaces. Far more powerful than regular cloths, they are able to get surfaces clean using just water, not chemicals, detergents or polishes required. Can be washed (without fabric conditioner) and reused hundreds of times.
So I hope that has helped you to see how making some more simple switches can make a massive difference to your immediate environment and all who live in it and the environment and large and all who live there too!
There are hundreds of options available to you that need not involve the harsh chemicals. So I hope that you find options that work for you. As ever if you have any questions or comments please get in touch.